Divorce advice from a family law Solicitor

Getting divorced can be a daunting process, especially if you have been out of the job market for some time and you may have been financially dependent on your spouse. There is help and information that can be sought in order to help you through the process and help get you back on your feet.

A family law solicitor can assist in settling your financial and property affairs so that the family assets within the ‘matrimonial pot’ are fairly distributed following the dissolution of the marriage or civil partnership. In the first instance a solicitor will endeavour to come to an agreement with your spouse by way of negotiations with a view to embodying the terms of the agreement into a Consent Order recording the terms of the settlement between you both. A solicitor will only advise you to consent to an agreed order if they consider the provisions within the Consent Order to be appropriate and fair.

Where an agreement cannot be reached with your spouse by way of negotiations, it will be necessary to commence court proceedings for the court to adjudicate on the matter which can include orders dealing with income, property and other assets to include pensions. Orders can include the transfer of property, shares or other assets, the payment of a lump sum and pension sharing orders.

The principles of family law are not formulaic and it is a discretionary system. The court will consider the individual circumstances of each application. The Court will apply the statutory criteria in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, section 25 when deciding on the outcome, which includes the length of marriage, age of the parties, both parties needs and the needs of any dependent children, earning capacity and financial resources available now and in the future.

As well as the legal side which will involve dealing with solicitors and the court process, there is the emotional aspect which sometimes people do not give as much attention to as they should.

You are likely to feel a great sense of loss as well as possibly failure, guilt and sorrow. These feelings are all perfectly normal and these feelings will get better with time. You should seek out external help in the form of therapists and counsellors as reaching out to third party experts can help with easing the emotional impact of the divorce process. You should ask for recommendations and do research on counsellors and therapists depending on your particular needs.

Take your time with the divorce process and allow yourself time and space to make decisions. You should not feel pressurised into making any decisions especially when you are feeling low. Refrain from posting anything on social media about the divorce as this could make relations worse and invite unwanted opinions as well as encourage hostile relations with your spouse. Try to be realistic about the situation. Having unrealistic goals at the beginning of the process is only likely to lead to disappointment and unhappiness, which will make coping with the divorce much harder.

Surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart which can include family and friends but don’t be scared to also spend time alone. Sometimes removing yourself from other people can give you time to process and reflect on the divorce process as well as giving you time to think about important matters.

Practice self-care where possible. Take time to rest, exercise and meditate. You will find it easier to make decisions about the divorce process if you are well rested and healthy. Spend time in nature and get out into the fresh air where you can as this will improve your mood and allow you time to think about and process issues. Go out in the sun for about 20 minutes a day when it’s sunny and take vitamin D as these will improve your mood and will help to prevent depression.

Don’t take it personally if your spouse is being negative or detrimental towards you. Tit for tat should be avoided at all costs as it doesn’t achieve anything, and it makes for reaching an amicable settlement more difficult.

Keep children at the forefront of your mind and both parents should co-parent in a constructive and positive way. Fighting over parenting issues will make an amicable divorce unlikely.

Get legal advice as early on as possible. This doesn’t mean that you will have to go to court to ‘battle it out.’ In fact court proceedings should be avoided wherever possible due to the significant costs and stress involved. Legal advice will help to streamline the process and focus the issues between you and your spouse which will make reaching a financial settlement at the earliest opportunity more likely, which in turn will save costs. Full and frank disclosure is key in relation to sorting out the financial matters relating to the divorce for both parties. Playing ‘dirty tricks’ and hiding assets will only make the process more hostile and protracted which in turn will incur further costs.


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